The Wires

 

... No, Reality Chex has not turned into a Playboy wannabe. I just thought you'd like to see how Louise Linton, the wife of the Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, thought she should pose for an Elle article about her various missteps as, you know, the wife of the Treasury Secretary. Maybe she should start asking herself, "What Would Karen Pence do?" -- Mrs. Bea McCrabbie 

 

 

The Martin Luther King home in Atlanta. MLK, Jr. was born here. The house is a National Historic Site & you can visit it -- the National Park Service conducts tours.

More on the MLK house here.

Laura Holson of the New York Times profiles Joy Reid of MSNBC. Mrs. McC: If you've never seen Joy on the teevee, she is indeed a joy.

Cheddar Man! Serious Bad News for Donald Trump & All His White Supremacist Friends. New York Times: "He had dark skin, brown curly hair and blue eyes, DNA tests suggest, upending a common assumption that Britain’s indigenous populations were all pale skinned with fair features. He is 'Cheddar Man,' Britain’s oldest complete skeleton, which was discovered in 1903 in Gough’s Cave near the village of Cheddar in Somerset, in southwest England. He lived about 10,000 years ago in the Mesolithic period, the middle part of the Stone Age. Scientists have now reconstructed his features, demonstrating that he was part of a population of ancient Western Europeans that, scientists have shown in recent years, had dark skin. Research has shown that fair skin pigmentation — long considered a defining feature of Europe — only goes back less than 6,000 years." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: We all come from African ancestry, but now it turns out that those of us who appear whitey-white likely have more recent dark-skinned ancestors. Yes, Donald, you are Cheddar Man! Could you all stop being racists now?

Chrisco Gets Part-time Gig at ABC News. NJ.com: Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie "has been hired as an occasional contributor to ABC News, according to sources familiar with the discussions."

Finally, an Ex-White House Staffer Gets a Job for which She Might Be Qualified. Hollywood Reporter: "Omarosa Manigault, who left the White House under dramatic circumstances at the tail end of last year, is set to enter the Celebrity Big Brother house."

Los Angeles Times: "The most unpredictable Oscar season in years finally came into focus Tuesday morning [Jan. 23] as the 90th Academy Awards nominations were announced, with nine films representing a wide range of genres earning best picture nods and Guillermo del Toro's fantastical fable 'The Shape of Water' leading the field with 13 nominations." A list of nominees for the top prizes follows.

The Gossip Page

Page Six of the New York Post: "Disgraced anchor Matt Lauer has been kicked out of his home by his furious wife [Annette Roque]  after multiple women came forward with allegations of his 'inappropriate sexual behavior.' And while Lauer’s reclusive wife has not yet filed for divorce, we’re told it is likely to happen soon.... Roque had previously filed for divorce from Lauer in 2006, citing 'mental abuse, extreme mental and emotional distress, humiliation, torment and anxiety,' but withdrew the filing weeks later after he offered her a postnuptial agreement and millions more dollars, a source told Page Six.”

Constant Comments

 

Editor-in-Chief:
Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. -- H. L. Mencken (probably)

Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one. -- A. J. Liebling

Monday
Aug242015

The Commentariat -- August 25, 2015

Afternoon Update:

** Terrence McCoy of the Washington Post: How fast operators purchase structured settlements for a fraction of their face value from victims of lead poisoning -- like Baltimore resident Freddie Gray (killed in April by Balto police) & his family. CW: Notice how people destined for the Eighth Circle of Hell get away with their scams. Preying on the disadvantaged is about as depraved as it gets.

Daniel Drezner of the Washington Post: "... the scariest thing [about Black Monday] was how one day of financial volatility was enough to make four presidential candidates -- Christie, Sanders, Trump, and Walker -- say really stupid things about the Chinese economy and the Sino-American relationship.

New York Times Editors: Jeb!'s visit to the border town of McAllen, Texas on Monday provided "a chance to see how the supposed expert on this fraught subject handled [the immigration issue]. Short version: He was awful. In less than 15 minutes, Mr. Bush managed to step on his message, to give Mr. Trump a boost, and to offend Asian-Americans, a growing population that is every bit as important as Latinos in winning presidential elections. And he failed to give Latino voters any persuasive evidence that he had anything better to offer them than his opponents in a revoltingly xenophobic Republican campaign." CW: Read the whole post. Whoever did the actual writing of this editorial had some fun.

*****

Neil Gough, et al., of the New York Times: "After a three-day rout that erased nearly $3 trillion in value from stocks globally, markets other than China’s on Tuesday showed signs that selling pressures were easing. Shanghai stocks closed down 7.6 percent on Tuesday, after Monday's 8.5 percent plunge, and Beijing officials sought to stabilize financial markets by cutting interest rates and reducing the amount of money banks are required to keep on hand to guard against risk." ...

     ... New Lede: "Stocks in the United States came roaring back from a three-day rout on Tuesday morning. In late-morning trading, the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index was up 2.4 percent, and the Dow Jones industrial average had risen more than 370 points, or 2.3 percent, after falling almost 10 percent over the last week." ...

     ... Newer Lede: "The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index closed down 1.4 percent, to 1,867.62, after earlier rising almost 3 percent from Monday's close. The Dow Jones industrial average finished the day down 1.3 percent, off 205 points, at 15,666.44. The Dow was up as much as 441 points in the morning." ...

... Neil Gough & Chris Buckley of the New York Times: "China's central bank on Tuesday cut its benchmark interest rate and freed banks to lend more, the latest signs of the government's growing distress over slumping stocks and slowing economic growth. The central bank's action followed a global stock market rout in which China led the declines. The main Shanghai share index plunged another 7.6 percent on Tuesday, to its lowest level this year."

... CW: In contrast to the GOP candidates' "assessments," (see Paul Krugman's comment below) James Suroweicki of the New Yorker has a fairly straightforward reality-based explanation of the U.S. market's downturn: "The short-term reasons for the sell-off are easy to enumerate: the continued decline in oil prices; worries about a possible interest-rate hike by the Fed in September; and concerns about the struggles of emerging-market economies like Brazil, Malaysia, and, above all, China.... But behind all of these issues was something more fundamental: when stock valuations are high, even small changes in investors' expectations about the future can have a big influence on stock prices in the present.... The price of a long-term perspective ... is sometimes short-term turmoil.... At the moment, this looks like the kind of healthy correction we should periodically expect in a richly valued market."

Clifford Kruass & Rick Gladstone of the New York Times: The depressed price of oil is bringing or threatening political as well as economic instability in oil-rich countries throughout the world.

Kevin Cirilli of the Hill: "Liberal activists are descending upon a global economic conference in Jackson Hole, Wyo., to criticize Federal Reserve officials for adopting an 'insane' economic agenda that doesn't benefit minorities. The liberal Center for Popular Democracy has launched a "Fed Up" campaign to urge the central bank's chairwoman, Janet Yellen, and her team of policymakers against raising interest rates."

Mike Lillis of the Hill: Nancy Pelosi "is hitting the phones to whip on-the-fence Democrats behind the [Iran nuclear] agreement in hopes of building the numbers proponents may need to seal the deal in the face of GOP efforts to scuttle it.... And she's invited the ambassadors from each of the six world powers that negotiated the Iranian deal -- the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China -- to meet next month with House Democrats on just their second day back in Washington after the long summer recess." ...

... Greg Sargent puts Pelosi's whip campaign in context.

Obama v. the Crazies. Jordan Fabian of the Hill: "On his first day back from vacation, the president hit the road to attend a clean energy summit in Las Vegas hosted by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and headline a fundraiser for the retiring senator's possible Democratic successor, Catherine Cortez Masto. Obama said he rode to the fundraiser with Reid late Monday, when they spent time reminiscing and 'figuring out how we're going to deal with the crazies in terms of managing some problems,' according to a pool report."

Charles Pierce on the Sunday showz: Ken Burns is no Maureen Dowd. CW: Yes, funny how Burns somehow picks up that birther, anti-immigrant Donald Trump is a racist, while MoDo altogether misses that little tic. Maybe it takes a documentarian.

Presidential Race

Jordan Fabian of the Hill: "The White House on Monday said President Obama may offer an endorsement in the Democratic primary, which could pit his former secretary of State against his vice president. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the front-runner for the party's nomination, but Vice President Biden is looking at the race. 'I wouldn't rule out the possibility of an endorsement during the Democratic primary,' press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Monday." ...

... Michael Shear of the New York Times: "... Mr. Earnest noted that Mr. Obama had said in the past that adding Mr. Biden 'to the ticket as his running mate was the smartest decision that he had ever made in politics.' Jon Karl of ABC quickly pounced, noting that the statement must mean the president would support Mr. Biden if he decided to run. 'I mean, this is obviously a better decision than the secretary of state he chose, so. You said it was his best -- the best decision he made.' 'Yeah, it was. It was,' Mr. Earnest said, though he quickly added that 'the president has spoke at quite some length about the appreciation, respect and admiration he has for the service of Secretary Clinton.' The Republican National Committee took only moments to leap at the chance to point out the awkwardness.... (Though the G.O.P. conveniently left out the part where Mr. Earnest praised Mrs. Clinton.)" ...

... Matea Gold of the Washington Post: "Major Democratic fundraisers have been invited to meet with Vice President Joe Biden at his residence at the U.S. Naval Observatory after Labor Day, part of a series of conversations he is having with senior party players as he contemplates jumping into the 2016 race. Among the guests invited to the gathering are top bundlers who raised large sums for the Obama-Biden campaigns in 2008 and 2012, according to people familiar with the outreach. The sitdown is scheduled to take place during the week following Labor Day." ...

     ... CW: In case it isn't obvious, I'll tell you how Matea Gold -- (and now you) knows this, as well as how you know all the other Biden for President stuff that's come out the past couple of weeks: Joe Biden wants you to know. This doesn't necessarily mean he's the source, & it doesn't necessarily mean he'll run, but it does, at minimum, mean he likes the attention.

** Steve Coll of the New Yorker: "... the tenacity of Republican opposition researchers does not by itself explain why Clinton and her husband are so often beset by accusation. Both of them too often co-author their dramas by obfuscating and tolerating conflicts of interest, such as when, between 2009 and 2013, with Hillary Clinton guiding American foreign policy, the Clinton Foundation accepted large donations from foreign governments, including several that abuse human rights.... Hillary Clinton's vulnerabilities as a Presidential candidate are visible and often remarked upon -- conspicuous wealth, a self-protecting style, and the baggage accumulated during three decades in public life. Her strengths are less often acknowledged."

** "Maybe This Time Really Is Different." Norm Ornstein, in the Atlantic, takes a long view & determines that the Republican party is flat-out wingnut crazy: "History may prove a guide, but it's no longer clear where it's pointing." Ornstein sees the possibility of a raucous GOP convention.

Paul Krugman: "... a stock crash in China triggered a big decline around the world.... Trust the Republican field to declare that it's all Obama's fault. Scott Walker wants Obama to cancel a state dinner with Xi; Donald Trump says that it's because Obama has let China 'dictate the agenda' (no, I have no idea what he thinks he means). And Chris Christie says that it's because Obama has gotten us deep into China's debt.... Remember: all the experts said that the GOP had an unusually strong field, a very deep bench, a lot of talent running for president."

Sam Frizell GOP pollster Frank Luntz conducted a focus group of Trump supporters that left Luntz's "legs shaking" because the participants were so mad at Republican politicians.

     ... CW: Here's my favorite bit: "... a woman who added she comes from a military family [said]. 'I look at where we are now as a country where entitlements are just totally out of control.'" Really, Lady? Let's just assume for argument's sake that your "military family" includes a father & husband who were career military men. That means you've been living on "entitlements" -- direct income plus housing, health care, pensions, etc. -- your whole life. STFU. ...

Jeb! & Marco Knock Asian "Anchor Babies." Michael Bender of Bloomberg: "'This is ludicrous for the Clinton campaign and others to suggest that somehow I'm using a derogatory term [i.e., "anchor babies"],' Bush said at a news conference in McAllen, Texas. 'What I was talking about was the specific case of fraud being committed where there's organized efforts -- and frankly it's more related to Asian people -- coming into our country, having children in that organized effort, taking advantage of a noble concept, which is birthright citizenship.'... On Fox News last week..., Marco Rubio also identified Chinese women coming to the U.S. to have babies.... Bloomberg Businessweek reported in May on the increasing number of agencies bringing pregnant Chinese women to the country. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the IRS have been investigating the growing business of 'birth tourism,' which operates in a legal gray area, for at least a year.... Bush traveled to McAllen in part to ridicule Trump's immigration plan...." CW: Sounds like a great success. ...

... Laura Clawson of Daily Kos: "Presumably this is a clumsy reference to this story from last spring, but it's more fun to think it's a veiled shot at Bobby Jindal. In any case, the immigrants that Republicans get really worked up about are not the ones who can pay $50,000 to 'birth tourism' operators and stay in luxury apartments, but nice try at deflecting, Jeb! He then went on with another deflection attempt, saying 'I think we need to take a step back and chill out a little bit as it relates to the political correctness that somehow you have to be scolded every time you say something.'" CW: Well, yes, every time you say something racist or sexist or homophobic, some "politically-correct" lefty snob will whack you for it, fair or not. ...

... CW: Oddly enough, the wealthy mothers of these infants born in the USA return with their newborns to their home countries within weeks of their brief American "tours." So if, years later, their presumably well-educated children come back to the U.S. to establish residency, would that be so terrible, Jeb!? Jeb! & other Republicans are trying to conflate two types of instant citizens: (1) the babies of (mostly mythical) poor Latina mothers who race across the U.S.-Mexican border, sans papers, the moment their water breaks; and (2) the babies of wealthy women, from China, India & elsewhere, who visit the U.S. on legal visas for the purpose of giving birth & establishing their newborns' U.S. citizenship, a right the children may never choose to exercise. ...

... Also, don't be surprised if the GOP is gearing up to attack Chinese -- & Indian -- immigrants. In 2013, there were more immigrants to the U.S. from China (147K) & from India (129K) than from Mexico (125K). ...

... Michael Barbaro of the New York Times: "After enduring those slings and arrows [from Donald Trump] for weeks..., Mr. Bush ... and his aides have decided to ... borrow a page from Mr. Trump's playbook: Hit back, with force and creativity, over and over again in the coming weeks. It is a turning point in Mr. Bush's campaign that was on display Monday in McAllen, Tex., along the border with Mexico. There, Mr. Bush called Mr. Trump's immigration plan 'unrealistic,' described his policies as un-Republican and acidly recommended that the businessman read Mr. Bush's book 'Immigration Wars' to acquaint himself with a practical solution.... In a phone interview Monday, Mr. Trump laughed at the suggestion that he read Mr. Bush's book on immigration. 'That would be exciting,' he said dryly." CW: Yeah, calling a nutso mass-deportation plan "unrealistic" is mighty forceful & creative. ...

... The Unrepentant. Nick Gass of Politico: "Donald Trump marked the return of Megyn Kelly [to her Fox 'News' show] on Monday night with a series of tweets and retweets blasting the Fox News host and continuing his ongoing war of words with Republican rival Jeb Bush. 'I liked The Kelly File much better without @megynkelly. Perhaps she could take another eleven day unscheduled vacation!'... Trump also ... retweet[ed] someone who called the former governor of Florida 'crazy' and urging him to speak English, not 'Mexican,' in reference to Bush's border visit earlier Monday in which he spoke in Spanish.... [CW: and English.]" ...

... Jesse Byrnes of the Hill: "... Donald Trump ... fired his latest salvo in his attack against GOP rival Jeb Bush, criticizing the former Florida governor for saying his use of the term 'anchor babies' applied more to Asians than Hispanics. Trump sent a pair of tweets blasting Bush early Tuesday.... 'Asians are very offended that JEB said that anchor babies applies to them as a way to be more politically correct to hispanics. A mess!'"

Nick Gass: "Lindsey Graham excoriated Republican presidential rival Donald Trump on Tuesday morning for his immigration plan, calling it both 'stupid' and 'illegal.'... Graham also took aim at Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus who in an interview over the weekend said that Trump is a 'net positive' for the party. 'I think that's dumb, too,' he said." CW: Last I looked, Graham is running 15th among 17 in the GOP presidential polls. ...

... Jeet Heer of the New Republic: "Rather than a populist, Trump is the voice of aggrieved privilege -- of those who already are doing well but feel threatened by social change from below, whether in the form of Hispanic immigrants or uppity women (hence the loud applause he got at the first GOP debate when he derided 'political correctness'). Far from being a defender of the little people against the elites, Trump plays to the anxiety of those who fear that their status is being challenged by people they regard as their social inferiors. That's why the word 'loser' is such a big part of his vocabulary."

The Flippity-Flip-Flop Flop. Dana Milbank: "Scott Walker has for two decades won primary elections by refusing to allow any Republican to outmaneuver him on the right.... Nobody has been hurt by Trump more than Walker, who has seen his support drop nearly in half in the last month, to single digits.... His donors and supporters are jittery, and ... he tried to reassure them with a vow to emphasize his conservatism with more passion. That could explain the birthright-citizenship fiasco.... There is no way to outflank Trump on the right. Trump, without a care for Republicans' long-term electoral viability, is making a parody of the conservative-dominated Republican primary process by embracing the most extreme positions, particularly on immigration. The showman has reduced GOP politics to absurdity -- and you can't trump that." ...

... CW: Trump has a huge advantage over standard-issue politicians, who have to pretend they're sincere, even when they execute a politically-motivated flip-flop. Nobody thinks Trump is sincere, & nobody is surprised by his flip-flops. Even his ardent fans would probably say Trump "tells it like it is" -- at the moment. Most of his positions are ripe for flip-flops. Even as he labeled Mexican immigrants rapists & criminals in a campaign that breathes & breeds racism, Trump said, "I love the Mexican people. I've had a great relationship with Mexico and the Mexican people." & he predicted he would win the Hispanic vote. Could President Trump soften his hardline on immigration? Claro que sí. ...

... Amateur Hour.Joshua Keating of Slate: Scott "Walker seems to think that these concerns ... cyberattacks, militarization of the South China Sea, human rights abuses ... would be best addressed by snubbing Xi altogether, even though he himself met with Xi in a 2013 visit to China, when relations weren't significantly better than they are now.... To state the obvious: China isn't deliberately crashing its market to punish Wall Street.... It's hard to avoid the impression that Walker simply saw that China was in the news today and decided to make some tough sounding noises about it. "

Nick Gass: "Ohio Gov. John Kasich's standing continues to rise to an all-time high among voters in the Buckeye State as he campaigns for the Republican presidential nomination, according to the latest results from a Quinnipiac University poll of swing states released Tuesday. Voters approved of Kasich's job performance 61 percent to 28 percent, with even stronger numbers among Republicans at 84 percent to 10 percent." CW: This contrasts with Scottie, who "remains miserably unpopular among the voters who know him best.... His Wisconsin "approval" rating: 39/57 percent."

Sometimes You Have to Bribe Pay Politicians to Get What You Want. Because Kentucky law forbids a person to run for two offices on the same ballot, Rand Paul "talked" the state's Republican party into changing its presidential primary to a caucus, thus allowing him to run to retain his Senate seat on the ballot & run for president in the state's new caucuses. Here's the kicker, as Akhilleus laid out more fully in yesterday's Comments thread: Eugene Scott & Tal Kopan of CNN: "The change is estimated to cost between $400,000 - $600,000, according to Scott Lasley, Kentucky GOP 2nd district chairman. 'Sen. Paul reaffirmed his intent to pay for the caucus. $250,000 is to be raised or transferred to (the Republican Party of Kentucky) by September 18. If the money is not there by the 18th, it will revert back to a presidential primary instead of the caucus,' Lasley said in an email to CNN. 'Details on the remaining balance will be determined as the process unfolds.'" ...

... The Check Is in the Mail. Tom Loftus of the Louisville Courier-Journal (August 18): "Despite what he said in a letter to members of the Republican Central Committee days ago, Sen. Rand Paul has not transferred $250,000 to the Republican Party of Kentucky to help pay for the presidential caucuses Paul is seeking.... Paul said in a letter to members of the 334-member committee this weekend... [claiming] 'I have transferred $250,000 in an RPK account to begin the funding.'"

Alan Rappeport of the New York Times: "The chairman of [Rick Perry's] campaign in Iowa, Sam Clovis, is leaving the campaign, Mr. Perry's team said on Monday. Despite the departure, Mr. Perry ... still plans to campaign in the crucial caucus state, a spokeswoman said."

Beyond the Beltway

Paul Waldman: "... the place where the GOP is really exercising its creativity is in coming up with new ways to restrict abortion rights. In the latest inspired move, Republican state legislators in Ohio have introduced a bill to make it illegal for a woman to terminate her pregnancy because she has discovered that the baby would have Down syndrome. The bill is expected to pass, and though he hasn't yet taken a position on it, it would be a shock if Governor John Kasich ... didn't sign it.... Look for identical bills to come up in state after Republican-controlled state. Anyone who objects will of course be accused of wanting to kill children with disabilities."

Rachel Cote of Jezebel: "Freshman women at Old Dominion University were given a very special welcome last week when they arrived on campus: Large banners that read 'Rowdy and fun/Hope your baby girl is ready for a good time,' 'Freshman daughter drop off,' and 'Go ahead and drop off mom too.'... Several members of Sigma Nu [fraternity] live there...." ODU's administration & its student government association are not amused. ...

... CW: Of course if freshman daughter or Mom gets PG as a result of rowdy fun good time with these excellent young men, it would be wrong for her to have an abortion. Nope, there's nothing wrong with our culture.

News Lede

Washington Post: "A man who had climbed a wall near the White House earlier this year was shot and killed by a sheriff's deputy Tuesday after cutting another deputy with a knife inside a Pennsylvania courthouse, authorities said. The incident took place inside the Chester County Justice Center in West Chester, Pa., west of Philadelphia. A man named Curtis Smith of Coatesville, Pa., walked into the lobby of the courthouse, 'pulled out a knife and attacked a deputy sheriff, slashing him,' Thomas Hogan, the Chester County district attorney, said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon." ...

... The Philadelphia Inquirer story is here.

Sunday
Aug232015

The Commentariat -- August 24, 2015

Nathaniel Popper & Neil Gough of the New York Times: "Stocks in the United States tumbled on Monday morning as another sell-off that started in China roiled markets around the world. Immediately after the opening bell in New York, the Dow Jones industrial average dropped more than 1,000 points, or more than 5 percent -- one of the most precipitous such plunges in recent years. Within an hour, though, American stocks had made up much of their earlier losses and the Dow was down about 2 percent." ...

     ... UPDATE. "The Dow Jones industrial average plunged over 1,000 points immediately after the opening bell on Monday morning before recovering much of those losses and then dropping again nearly 600 points at the close." CW: Because Planned Parenthood. See Comments.

... Paul Krugman: "Politicians and technocrats alike want to view themselves as serious people making hard choices -- choices like cutting popular programs and raising interest rates. They don't like being told that we're in a world where seemingly tough-minded policies will actually make things worse. But we are, and they will." ...

... Zandar in Balloon Juice: "Once again, with interest rates at rock bottom, Republicans refuse to invest in government spending so they can privatize and profitize as much infrastructure as possible (which is the real problem), and they're shocked that years of Austerity Bombing hasn't created utopia yet (ask Kansas how that's going.)" ...

... "If I Were the Chair of the Fed. (As I Should Be.)" Larry Summers in the Washington Post: "A reasonable assessment of current conditions suggests that raising [interest] rates in the near future would be a serious error that would threaten all three of the Fed's major objectives: price stability, full employment and financial stability." ...

... What's the Matter with the Fed? Paul Krugman: "Pressure from the usual suspects -- the constant sniping against easy money -- may play a role. But I also suspect that a lot has to do with the urge to resume a conventional central-banker role. The whole culture of central banks involves saying no to stuff people want, taking away the punch bowl as the party gets going, having the courage to do unpopular things; everyone wants to be Paul Volcker. The Fed is really, really eager to return to that position -- and is, I fear, engaging in wishful thinking, believing much too readily that a return to normalcy is appropriate. It's not. I'm with Larry here: this attitude has the makings of a big mistake. Think Japan 2000; think ECB 2011; think Sweden. Don't do it."

Aurelien Breeden of the New York Times: "President François Hollande of France on Monday awarded the Legion of Honor, France's highest award, to three Americans and a Briton for their role in stopping a gunman on a high-speed train traveling to Paris from Amsterdam on Friday. The three Americans -- Airman First Class Spencer Stone, 23; Alek Skarlatos, 22, a specialist in the Oregon National Guard; and their friend Anthony Sadler, 23 -- received the honor in the gilded halls of the Élysée Palace, where they were joined by Chris Norman, 62, a British consultant":

Jamelle Bouie: "When we look at the first 15 years of the 21st century, the most defining moment in black America's relationship to its country isn't Election Day 2008, it's Hurricane Katrina. The events of the storm and its aftermath sparked a profound shift among black Americans toward racial pessimism that persists to today, even with Barack Obama in the White House. Black collective memory of Hurricane Katrina, as much as anything else, informs the present movement against police violence, 'Black Lives Matter.'"

Bomb-Bomb-Bomb-Iran. Michael Crowley of Politico: "Want to bomb Iran? Then support the nuclear deal. That's the provocative argument coming from Obama administration officials and other backers of the deal as they promote it before a crucial vote in Congress next month. In meetings on Capitol Hill and with influential policy analysts, administration officials argue that inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities under the deal will reveal important details that can be used for better targeting should the U.S. decide to attack Iran."

Paul Kane of the Washington Post: "Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid gave a forceful endorsement Sunday to the nuclear deal with Iran, a key boost that provides continued momentum for preventing Congress from blocking President Obama's pact. The Nevada Democrat ... pledged to round up more support to thwart its opponents." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Presidential Race

Ed Kilgore: "OK, the Biden speculation is really getting insane. All that anyone is able to report as actual news is that some people close to Biden really want him to run for president in 2016, and he hasn't ruled it out just yet. But the same stories go on to suggest he's 90% or 95% or 99% sure to run, and then it's off to the races about his strategy and HOW HE WILL DESTROY HILLARY, which seems to be the real point of the coverage, particularly from conservative outlets." ...

... CW: This should pump the Biden-Warren fantasy. Nick Gass of Politico: "It's 'too early' to commit to another term in the Senate, Elizabeth Warren told a Boston television station in an interview aired Sunday." ...

... AND this. Nick Gass: "Vice President Joe Biden has picked his new communications director: Kate Bedingfield, a former spokeswoman for John Edwards' 2008 campaign who recently served as the top film industry flack in Washington. 'She will be a key adviser to me, a terrific asset to our office, and an important member of the entire White House organization,' Biden said in a statement." ...

... BUT Charles Pierce thinks he knows what Warren is up to: "Even with Bernie Sanders in the race and tearing up the countryside, the Senator Professor doesn't think the putative frontrunner is doing enough on the issues to which the Senator Professor has devoted her entire career and that, therefore, those issues are not playing a big enough role in the campaign so far. This goes along with something we've been saying around here for a while now. You dismiss the Senator Professor's political chops at your peril. This move is how you broker power from where you are at the moment, and not where people want you to be."

Bernie Becker of the Hill: "Martin O'Malley, a Democratic presidential candidate, said Sunday that Republicans and the media are raising 'legitimate' questions about Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server. O'Malley, a former two-term Maryland governor, said the questions surrounding Clinton's email habits as secretary of State aren't allowing Democrats to talk about the economic issues worrying voters."

White Men in White Man's Party Worry White Man Will Damage White Man's Party. Molly Ball of the Atlantic: "... many Republican strategists, donors, and officeholders fret that the harm [Donald Trump is doing to the party] goes deeper than a single voting bloc. Trump's candidacy has blasted open the GOP's longstanding fault lines at a time when the party hoped for unity. His gleeful, attention-hogging boorishness -- and the large crowds that have cheered it -- cements a popular image of the party as standing for reactionary anger rather than constructive policies."

Evan Osnos of the New Yorker takes a long gander at Donald Trump & his white nationalist coalition. "Ever since the Tea Party's peak, in 2010, and its fade, citizens on the American far right -- Patriot militias, border vigilantes, white supremacists -- have searched for a standard-bearer, and now they'd found him." ...

... Greg Sargent: "The question of what to do about the 11 million is the fundamental underlying policy dilemma that is at the core of the whole immigration debate. And it's one many Republicans have refused to reckon with seriously for years now. They've called for more 'enforcement of the law' while taking care to avoid saying whether this means they want maximum deportations. And they've claimed to be open to legalization at some point later without meaningfully defining what conditions must be established first. This is roughly where [Scott] Walker is now. Trump has unmasked those evasions for what they are." ...

... The Party of Destruction. CW: Maybe Donald Trump knows how to build a wall (which at best would create an inconvenience to those wishing to sneak into the U.S., not an impenetrable impediment), but for the most part the GOP knows only how to tear down things, not how to build positive programs for Americans. They want to repeal the ACA, wreck Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid & other social welfare programs, defund Planned Parenthood & the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, eradicate regulations on business & industry. etc. They have no plans to do anything; all they know how to "do" is undo. So let's not be all surprised that they have no idea how to cope with millions of residents they want to disappear. ...

... Katy O'Donnell of Politico: "Donald Trump has boldly touted his independence from big donors, in June proclaiming 'I'm using my own money' during his presidential announcement speech, and holding forth his multi-billion-dollar net worth as proof that he can't be bought by the 'special interests' that bankroll -- and 'control' -- the campaigns of his rivals. But ... he tacitly gave approval to the Make America Great Again PAC by attending a fundraiser the group held in New York last month."

We have wonderful Border Patrol people. They can do their job, but they're not allowed to do the job. People are walking into the country [and] nobody even knows where they come from. They walk right past guards that are told not to do anything. -- Donald Trump, on ABC's "This Week"

Really? Fact-checker, please. -- Constant Weader

At Mobile, Alabama rally, Trump fans yelled "White power!" multiple times ... throughout the event."

If I'm going down, then Bush is going down with me. He's not going to be president of the United States. -- Donald Trump, to a friend

Flippity Flop Flop Flip. Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post: "... Scott Walker appears to have yet again shifted his stance on allowing the children of illegal immigrants to automatically gain U.S. citizenship. In an interview on ABC News' 'This Week' on Sunday morning, Walker said he does not want to alter the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which states that 'all persons born or naturalized in the United States ... are citizens of the United States.' Nearly a week ago, Walker said he wants to end birthright citizenship, and he would not say then whether he agrees with the 14th Amendment." Johnson provides more-or-less an hour-by-hour account of Walker's changing, conflicting, stonewalling & garbled stated "positions" last week. CW: This guy makes even the Decider & the Doofus brothers look smart. (Also linked yesterday.)

Cap'n. Cruz Leads Another Battle in the War on Women. Katie Zezima & Tom Hamburger of the Washington Post: "... Ted Cruz, who has assiduously courted evangelicals throughout his presidential run, will take a lead role in the launch this week of an ambitious 50-state campaign to end taxpayer support for Planned Parenthood -- a move that is likely to give the GOP candidate a major primary-season boost in the fierce battle for social-conservative and evangelical voters." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

In a Las Vegas Review-Journal op-ed, Columba Bush sucks up to Miriam & Sheldon Adelson, manages to mention Jeb! Via Politico.

Saturday
Aug222015

The Commentariat -- August 23, 2015

Afternoon Update:

Paul Kane of the Washington Post: "Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid gave a forceful endorsement Sunday to the nuclear deal with Iran, a key boost that provides continued momentum for preventing Congress from blocking President Obama's pact. The Nevada Democrat ... pledged to round up more support to thwart its opponents."

Flippity Flop Flop Flip. Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post: "... Scott Walker appears to have yet again shifted his stance on allowing the children of illegal immigrants to automatically gain U.S. citizenship. In an interview on ABC News' 'This Week' on Sunday morning, Walker said he does not want to alter the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which states that 'all persons born or naturalized in the United States ... are citizens of the United States.' Nearly a week ago, Walker said he wants to end birthright citizenship, and he would not say then whether he agrees with the 14th Amendment." Johnson provides more-or-less an hour-by-hour account of Walker's changing, conflicting, stonewalling & garbled stated "positions" last week. CW: This guy makes even the Decider & the Doofus brothers look smart.

Cap'n. Cruz Leads Another Battle in the War on Women. Katie Zezima & Tom Hamburger of the Washington Post: "... Ted Cruz, who has assiduously courted evangelicals throughout his presidential run, will take a lead role in the launch this week of an ambitious 50-state campaign to end taxpayer support for Planned Parenthood -- a move that is likely to give the GOP candidate a major primary-season boost in the fierce battle for social-conservative and evangelical voters."

*****

... Ashley Southall of the New York Times: "The three Americans who subdued a gunman aboard a train to Paris are friends from their middle-school days, and two of them serve in the armed forces." ...

... Michael Birnbaum of the Washington Post: "... sharp questions are being asked about Europe's security measures after a man who had been flagged by counterterrorism authorities as a potential risk was allowed onto the continent's vital rail system without any security checks. Spanish, French and Belgian security officials had the man, identified as 26-year-old Moroccan citizen Ayoub el-Khazzani, on their radar for more than a year."

Mark Hensch of the Hill (August 21): "The Black Lives Matter movement announced on Friday that it has an official platform for curbing police violence and reforming criminal justice in the U.S. The social activism group released its most comprehensive policy outline to date on a website titled Campaign Zero."

Amanda Marcotte in a Los Angeles Times op-ed: The anti-abortion movement relies on the principle that women are too immature, too ignorant or too "emotional" to make their own life decisions, so the state has a duty to "protect" women with anti-abortion laws. ...

... Heather Richardson, in Salon, takes a brief look at conservatives' long history of promoting white male supremacy.

Presidential Race

Deez Nuts endorses Sanders for the Democratic nomination, Kasich for the GOP nomination, & himself in the general election, showing that a 15-year-old has more sense than the majority of people eligible to vote &/or who are running for president.

Jonathan Martin & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Saturday summoned Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, to his Washington residence for a meeting, the latest indication that he is seriously considering a presidential bid. Mr. Biden and Ms. Warren met for over an hour at the Naval Observatory with no aides present, according to a Democrat briefed on the conversation."

Daniel Strauss of Politico: "As he campaigns through South Carolina, Sen. Bernie Sanders is taking more than a few shots at Gov. Nikki Haley and the state's conservative legislators on health care. In multiple speeches here, the liberal Democratic presidential candidate and Independent senator from Vermont has a one-two punch ready: South Carolina should have expanded Medicaid and the decision not to was fueled, at least in part, because President Barack Obama wants that to happen." ...

... Vanessa Williams of the Washington Post: In South Carolina, Bernie Sanders tries to increase his appeal to black voters.

Zeke Miller of Time: "Hillary Clinton's campaign offices around the country have been put on alert after at least two women approached Iowa staff under the guise of being supporters in an apparent effort to catch the campaign engaging in improper or illegal activity, a Clinton campaign official said.... A Clinton campaign official alleges that the women engaged in several efforts to entrap supporters."

Michael Barbaro, et al., of the New York Times: "A review of public polling, extensive interviews with a host of his supporters in two states and a new private survey that tracks voting records all point to the conclusion that [Donald] Trump has built a broad, demographically and ideologically diverse coalition, constructed around personality, not substance, that bridges demographic and political divides. In doing so, he has effectively insulated himself from the consequences of startling statements that might instantly doom rival candidates.... Trumpism, the data and interviews suggest, is an attitude, not an ideology." ...

     ... Steve M. cites the report as a good example of how the media sanitize Trump & his appeal to racist voters. ...

... CW: This stupid, offensive woman, randomly chosen, not only exemplifies Steve's point, she gives you an idea of who-all the Trump coalition includes:

... Maureen Dowd describes all the great things about Donald Trump's campaign: "... he has exploded the hoary conventions, money-grubbing advisers and fund-raising excesses of the presidential campaign, turning everything upside down, inside out, into sauerkraut." She really likes the way Trump has put Hillary & Jeb! in their places. She never once accuses Trump of being anything worse than brash. CW: So here we have a prominent NYT columnist demonstrating beyond question that she is as superficial, as nasty -- & as I've long suspected -- as racist as Trump. Maybe I should relegate MoDo to the Infotainment section in the manner of the HuffPost's Trump treatment. ...

... Lorenzo Ferrigno of CNN: Donald Trump finally walked back one of his disgusting remarks. Upon hearing that two Boston brothers severely beat a homeless man because he looked like an "Hispanic" "illegal immigrant" & justified their actions by saying, "Trump was right. All these illegals need to be deported," Trump said Wednesday it would be a shame if true, but added, "the people that are following me are very passionate. They love this country, they want this country to be great again." Friday, Trump tweeted, "Boston incident is terrible. We need energy and passion, but we must treat each other with respect. I would never condone violence." ...

... Washington Post Editors: Donald Trump's "loathsome comment on Wednesday, in which he excused violence against a Hispanic man in Boston as 'passionate' acts of 'people who are following me,' taps into a dark vein in American history and merits special attention.... Mr. Trump, under a barrage of criticism, took more than a day to retreat from his original statement.... By spewing hatred on the stump, Mr. Trump encourages it in the bleachers and on the streets, then sanctions it when it occurs." ...

... Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone: "This is the moment when Donald Trump officially stopped being funny.... when Trump surged in the polls on the back of this stuff, it caused virtually all of the candidates to escalate their anti-immigrant rhetoric.... Now the stupid wants out of its cage, and Trump is urging it on. There are a lot of ways this can go wrong, no matter who wins in 2016." ...

... Turns out those Boston thugs who want to make American great again have been illegally living in public housing. Yeah, Donald, you've got a terrific fan base: racist thugs AND moochers. ...

... Dave Weigel of the Washington Post: "Alabama, which hosted the largest rally of Trump's presidential campaign Friday night, had been a test kitchen for Trump-style crackdowns on undocumented workers -- and it had not gone well. In 2011, a new Republican legislature and governor enacted HB 56, the Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act.... The backlash was massive.... After Mitt Romney lost the 2012 presidential election, strategists in his own party blamed his support for the Alabama attrition policy. Those critics included Donald Trump.... To Republicans, the lesson of HB 56 was no longer that it failed. The lesson was that it had not been permitted to work, stymied by the Obama administration."

Jonathan Martin: "Senator Rand Paul, averting what would have been a blow to his waning presidential hopes, engineered a vote by the Kentucky Republican Party on Saturday to change the state's presidential nomination contest from a primary to a caucus. By making the switch, the state party effectively allowed Mr. Paul, the state's junior senator, to run both for re-election and for the presidency next year.... Kentucky state law bars candidates from seeking two different offices on the same ballot. By changing the presidential contest to a party-controlled caucus, the party has offered Mr. Paul an avenue to get around the rule." ...

You look at some of these caves [smugglers use] and things out there one drone strike, boom, and they're gone. -- Ben Carson, last week, on how to control the U.S.-Mexican border

In no way, did I suggest that drones be used to kill people. And I said that to the media at the time. Those caves can be eliminated. I'm not talking about killing people. No people with drones. -- Carson, after finding crumpled copy of Hippocratic Oath in an old jacket pocket

** IMPORTANT UPDATE: The Black Hand Mystery SOLVED! Paul Lindsay of Jeb!'s Right to Rise PAC posts the original photo of Jeb! -- before Photoshop. His left hand appears dark because he's standing right up next to a nice Republican lady, & the hand falls in the shadow of her boob. The hands, the body, the empty head -- they're all authentic Doofus. The Cedar Rapids backdrop, not so much. Via Ali Breland of Politico. ...

... CW: Whenever you get discouraged, carry on. There is always something new to discover, some secret truth revealed. The Sweet Mystery of Life has more than one answer:

... Sometimes a monster, sometimes the shadow of a boob. Life is grand, if in small ways.

Here's something grand from 20 years ago:

... CW: I don't think I fully appreciated what Donald Trump & his supporters mean by "politically correct" until I heard Barack Obama's explanation (near the end of the tape).

Beyond the Beltway

Stephen Ceasar of the Los Angeles Times (August 21): "Los Angeles County judge on Friday ruled that an antiabortion group that secretly recorded videos of abortion providers and others had a 1st Amendment right to make at least one of the recordings public. Superior Court Judge Joanne O'Donnell dissolved a temporary restraining order that had previously been imposed in state court in L.A. that prevented the release of one video taken by the Center for Medical Progress."

News Lede

New York Times: "Militants from the Islamic State destroyed a temple in the ancient ruins of Palmyra in Syria, activists and government officials said on Sunday, continuing a pattern of destruction that they have visited upon historical sites across the territory they control there and in Iraq."